[ STUDY ] The 10 Florida Counties with the Highest Drunk Driving Fatality Rates
Putnam County tops the list with a devastating 24 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people annually.
In the United States, drunk driving is a deadly scourge. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving claims a life every 48 minutes.
As personal injury attorneys we regularly bear witness to the tragic aftermath of drunk driving. Many of our clients are those who are left behind to pick up the pieces after someone’s decision to drive drunk ends in destruction, injury, and death.
Despite the efforts of legislators, educators, law enforcement, and countless advocacy groups, the problem of drunk driving persists in Florida, with some regions of the state being particularly, tragically, afflicted.
Given their size it’s easy to understand why some large Florida cities – Miami, Tampa, Orlando, etc. – would experience the most total drunk driving crashes and fatalities. However, if you look at the numbers on a per-capita basis the results are surprising.
For complete details on the methodology used to come up with these rankings, click here.
The 10 Florida Counties with the Highest Drunk Driving Fatality Rates
#1 Putnam County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 23.75
Putnam County has a modest population of 73,252 residents and is between Jacksonville, Gainesville, St. Augustine, and Daytona Beach. Its location might explain why it tops the list with a drunk driving death rate of 23.75 people per 100,000 people.
#2 Columbia County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 19.44
Columbia County has even fewer residents, with an estimated population of just over 69,968 people and a lower five-year average for drunk driving deaths than Putnam County. Its rate is about 19 fatalities per 100,000 people, putting it in second place on our list.
#3 Marion County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 11.65
Marion County is our first highly populated county on the list, with 353,526 people, and a more robust public bus system. There were 39 drunk driving deaths in 2020, a decrease from 54 deaths the year before. The five-year average places it as third worst for drunk driving fatalities.
#4 Nassau County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 10.59
Nassau County is the most northeastern county in Florida, close to Jacksonville and several military bases. With a population of 83,098, its drunk driving fatality rate, based on its five-year average, comes out to about 10 deaths per 100,000 people.
#5 Alachua County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 8.36
Alachua County also has a larger population and is home to Gainesville and the University of Florida. It saw a high of 44 drunk driving deaths in 2019, but the five-year average is 22 deaths annually. It’s the first county on our list to have a rate below 10 per 100,000 people.
#6 Highlands County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 8.12
Highlands County has a modest population of 103,437, and its biggest cities are Avon Park and Sebring, with about 10,000 people each. Its five-year average is eight deaths per year. Despite fewer deaths than in Alachua County, it has a similar drunk driving rate.
#7 Flagler County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 7.47
Seventh on our list is much like the sixth. Flagler County has a population of 109,801, and its largest city is Palm Coast. This county also has a five-year average of eight drunk driving deaths each year, with a rate of just over seven deaths per 100,000 people.
#8 Duval County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 6.73
Duval County has over 936,000 people, making it the most populous county on our list. It boasts Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Neptune Beach and sees more drunk driving deaths each year than these other nine counties. In fact, its five-year average is 63 drunk driving deaths annually. Despite this total, the overall rate is fewer than seven per 100,000 people.
#9 Citrus County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 6.61
Citrus is a mid-sized county with a population of just over 145,000 people. Its largest community is Homosassa Springs, despite being an unincorporated area. Citrus County averaged fewer than 10 drunk driving deaths the past five years, but its rate per 100,000 people is similar to Duval County.
#10 Martin County
Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 6.41
Martin County rounds out our top 10 list. It’s similar to Citrus County, with a slightly larger population of 159,000. It averaged 10 drunk driving deaths annually over the past five years, resulting in a rate of six deaths per 100,000 people.
- Using FDOT’s Traffic Safety Dashboard we obtained county-level Florida crash data for all Impaired Driving crashes over five years, from 2016 to 2020.
- We narrowed the list of counties down to only those with a population of over 50,000 (41 counties).
- We calculated the average number of drunk driving fatalities per year, per county over the five year span.
- To determine the number of drunk driving fatalities per year, per 100k people we used the following formula:
Average annual drunk driving fatalities ÷ (total population ÷ 100,000) = Drunk driving fatalities per 100k